Among the collection of notes on our refrigerator door is one of my favorite sayings: Life is the only game in which the object of the game is to learn the rules. It’s a card my wife brought with her when we began our life together. I smile every time I notice these words for they are a signpost keeping me on the true path along my journey of discovering the purpose of my life.
The words came to me again from an unexpected source yesterday – a message from a loved one who is facing a serious health challenge and who has placed herself in the hands of the God for whom she has a deep and abiding faith. She noticed the note some time ago but had said nothing about it until now. And what she said was: “That’s a cute quip, but the truth is we have a rule book that we are suppose to be following. When we stand to give an answer for our lives God is going to hold us accountable to those rules!” For the first time in all the times I’ve read that note, its resonance with my belief about the nature of alchemy shined through its words.
Alchemy is a personal perspective that sees our world and everything in it as a gift. This view calls forth a natural and compelling desire to explore how the world works. If the rules of nature can be discovered, they can be used to find treasures – wondrous and beneficial things – to heal, to provide the basic necessities for all, to enjoy full and long lives. This is a difficult path because it includes powerful temptations to find or make just what we want for ourselves. The treasures to be found on this path can also lead to unexpected results. A safer path is a more restricted one with a book of rules everyone needs to follow, one created by those who know how to avoid the unexpected.
Now, I’m not proposing that alchemy is the only practice or way of life that people can fulfill themselves in or solve some of the world’s problems. Yet, alchemy is a way of life that demands personal responsibility. The ticket for entrance into the Art is stamped with the message:
Discover the rules to make the world what you can imagine it to be and follow them.